Hiking Trail Markers Big and … Huh?
A hiking trail is only as good as its markers. What are good hiking trail markers? They should be conspicuous and clearly visible! That, really, is the first and perhaps the only imperative. What task could be simpler to resolve than that?
Well, you’ll be surprised, because the number and variety of different approaches to trail marking is actually quite stunning.
The plain red-and-white brushstrokes have become something like the international standard. In Germany, however, where hiking is taken more seriously than elsewhere, “plain” is obviously not good enough. Every German trail has undergone a sophisticated branding exercise and proudly carries its own identity – in the form of individualized logos that you can spot on anything from oven gloves and beer glasses to, well, trees. Logo designs range from the literal: “if it’s called the Wine Trail, it’s gotta have …”
… well, yes – and the stylized …
… for the Witches’ Trail (a picture of, say, Broomhilda on her favourite mode of transport was clearly felt inappropriate), via the abstract …
… (for the St James’s Trail), to the merely referential – yes, even in Germany that old “X marks the trail” tradition is alive and well. It can get a bit complicated, however, when several of these “X”s meet.
But the real problems begin when there are no trees. If a trail is only as good as its markers, a marker can only be as good – i.e. visible – as the object to which it has been attached. How, for example, do you mark a trail – in the desert?
In Arizona, they put a few stones together – any pattern will do as long as it betrays a human hand (the customs of constructing “cairns” apparently goes back to Celtic times). What is “conspicuous” clearly depends on the context …
… which is why, sometimes, a little dab of colour will already do.
In theory, a rock is a good place to carry any type of marker – rocks, after all, are quite likely to remain where they are, at least for another thousand years or so. In practice, however, much depends on your choice of rock.
And then, there is this.
Let’s just hope that nobody will mow the lawn any time soon.
Have you ever seen unusual hiking trail markers along your hikes? Why not share them in our Facebook page or at least join in the discussion?